Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Times are changing.

I'm finally in Chester studying the Legal Practice Course. But that is not the only thing that has changed. I seem to have started a new chapter in my life, I'm on my own in such a beautiful city and I finally have the freedom to make decisions about my own life without anyone or thing holding me back. The Legal Practice Course is quite a handful, I'm in 4 mornings a week and spend about 5-6 hours every afternoon preparing for the next mornings workshop. I have a sunday job at a quaint little pub round the corner, which pays for much needed mid week cocktails. I've come to the decision that I would quite like to remain in this neck of the woods if possible. Although I am a West Country girl at heart, I feel there are more opportunities in Chester, Liverpool & Manchester for a trainee than in Bristol alone. I still have my heart set on family and child law, I do seem to be in the minority for this which I hope means less competition. 

I wanted to make this first post quite witty but I seem to be significantly lacking in anything to say right now. Since moving here a tornado seems to have spread through my life and everything I was expecting this year to be has blown away. I've had to make some difficult decisions and I've made a few mistakes, I've hurt quite a lot of people in the process. But now I have had time to settle in, stop trying so hard to fit in, things are calming down and I feel quite a lot more at peace with myself this week. Things can only go up from here. If anything, this year is going to bring about a lot of soul searching. I've spent the last 8 years of my life always as someone's other half, jumping from one boyfriend to another without any breathing space, it's time for me to put myself first, concentrate on where I want my life to go and who I want to be, make time for friends and family and all the other sentimental crap you hear on american sitcoms. 

The hardest thing about being here is the fact I very rarely see my friends. We're all so busy and even those who live nearby struggle to have any free time. I do miss them a lot and it's constantly playing on my mind. I've always found it quite hard to make new friends and to actually fit in, so I do find myself pining for my girls. 

This blog post has turned into a bit of an emotional ramble so I think i'll end it here. I promise to be more witty next time. 

Friday, 7 September 2012

The myth of women drivers.

There is possibly nothing more straining on my relationship of three years than when its my turn to drive. We both avoid this occurance like the bubonic plague. Firstly, I should point out I am a fantastic driver, there is no dent in the boot of my ka, who is affectionately called Dave. His clio had a nasty run in with an illegally parked land rover and a careless reverse. For the three years I have been let loose on the road I have never had a crash or breakdown, touch wood. But nevertheless, men become rather chauvanists around cars. "bloody women drivers" seems to be the general consensus.
My superb parking.
Usually, I love driving. I plug my ipod shuffle into my old school cassette player and Dave becomes a portable disco and kareoke bar. I've honed my opera skills to (in my subjective opinion) perfection. I am quite aware that I look an absolute tit when driving as I probably appear to be shouting animatedly to myself.
But the second my boyfriend gets in the car tensions rise. He will spend the whole journey praying loudly for his safety, screaming "oh my god you nearly killed us woman" at regular intervals. In my defence, how am you supposed to concentrate when there's a hyperchondriac whinging next to you? Also his unappreciation for my excellent music taste puts me off my game.
There is also the small issue of my geographical awareness. If you were to put me in my home town and spin me around I would be lost. I subsquently spend half the journey crying that I'm lost. So picture a grown 6ft man, screaming for his life, "what are you doing woman?" Hanging frantically onto the dashboard. And then me yelling "where the hell are we?", taking an hour to make a ten minute journey, and interrupting any conversation to belt out a dashboard confessionals number. Now you have a basic insight onto how road trips with me as the driver are for my boyfriend.
I guess its part of the male DNA to be terrified of female drivers and to find it impossible to relax in the passengers seat. I feel I should reasssure him that I don't intend to kill us, and if you still don't like it, take the bus.
But just when I start to consider the idea that I may actually be a terrible driver, I ask jono to drive Dave up to chester for me, as I don't feel confident enough to make such a long journey safely myself. I say goodbye and relax knowing he will get Dave safetly up north as he's so confident and experienced, I turn around, reassured, to wave good bye, only to find him driving the wrong way down a one way street...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I'm on a boat

As a 21st birthday present/graduation gift my mum took me on a cruise. She was a little disappointed when I didn't request a Mediterranean cruise, I prefer aesthetics to heat, but happily she booked a 14night cruise to the Norwegian fjords. Stopping at Iceland, The Faroe Islands and Norway. We crossed the Arctic Circle into the land of the midnight sun and saw a tiny faint glimpse of the Northern Lights. Joining us on our cruise was our friend Iris; mum's sign language buddy and  a fellow thespian from my theatre club, also came her good friend Christine. Our ship of choice was the Celebrity Eclipse, at over a thousand feet long it's certainly an impressive beast to look at.

Cruising is very much like marmite, you'll either love it or you will hate it. Rather than bore you with ever minute detail of the cruise, (don't you just hate it when you're forced to sit through endless hours of holiday snaps, gouge my eyes out please!) i'll just give you my highlights. During my time there I knew precisely which of my friends would love cruising and exactly why, I vividly imagined certain ones purchasing the premium unlimited drinks card and I could visualise them hopping from one cocktail bar to another every day, and if any of them are reading this they know exactly who they are... Without a doubt the vast selection of cocktail bars and the even grander selection of cocktails on offer were one of my highlights. I know this may seem borderline alcoholic, profusely proclaiming my love for cocktails above everything else, but I should remind you that one; I am a student and two; I am a [rather snobby] female who loves nothing more than cocktails. There were two bars that stuck out the most for me, the first being a molecular bar that claimed all ingredients were fresh and healthy, probably meaning it was all pure alcohol and no fuzzy carbonated crap. The dragon fly and lucky cat cocktails were not only potent but they were liquid nitrate ones, meaning they were all steamy and impressive looking. I'm not sure there's anything cockier than sitting with a steamy cocktail but I think I nailed it. Another favourite cocktail of mine was this rather pretty one that was pink and contained rose petals. It was foamy and ridiculously potent. The other bar we were impressed by was the Martini Bar. The bartender had serious pouring skills, we once witnessed him pouring 11 drinks in one go. We made the serious mistake of going during happy hour; the martini's are without doubt the strongest i've ever had. The cosmopolitans are such a pale pink colour, which demonstrates exactly how punchy these drinks are, cheap and weak cosmopolitans tend to be heavy on the juice and are a garish florescent reddish pink colour, when you cocktail is four parts various liquours and one part juice you know you're in trouble. The most exciting thing about this bar though was the fact it was an ice bar, all the vodkas were being chilled in a mountain of ice and the actual bar top was iced over, I had great fun writing my name into the counter. There were of course many other watering holes, the wine cellar is something I know my boyfriend would die for. It's a state-of-the-art Enomatic wine-by-the-glass dispensing system where you simply swipe your sea pass (more on this later) and pour yourself a glass of wine from these rather funky machines. You can try a wide variety of unknown wines or the classic favourites. 

Now I guess you can't talk about the drinks without talking about the food. I have always considered myself a bit of a foodie and am without doubt a bit of a food snob, I was looking forwards to the elegant meals and 5 star cuisine. The only set back was the fact this is an American ship, and say what you want about British food, American food is particularly bland. So whilst I was dining on veal in a rosemary jus, or lobster in garlic butter, there was a distinct lack of flavour. There were occasional foods that stuck out, but this was primarily starters such as the smoked salmon and caviar, which was particularly delightful. I don't want to slate the food, it was all very nice, I just expected a little different. Another problem for me personally was the sheer quantity, I hate wasting food but with the gastronomical amount of food available at the breakfast and lunch buffets I genuinely couldn't cope. And everyone who knows me will tell you I can put away a hell of a lot of food. 

We did visit two specialty restaurants which were beyond delish. Qusine is a heston blumenthal-esque style of eating, it's an experience that you share almost like tapas, except the different courses that you share are from around the world. Disco shrimps that are literally flashing lights at you, sushi lollipops which includes salmon with crushed doritos, fillet steak that comes on an artist pallet with different sauces and accompaniments. My favourite was the lava crab, but that's just because anything involving lobster sauce always tickles my possum. We made it through 13 courses, which resulted in me being unable to move and genuinely terrified of the FOUR red velvet cupcakes that they expected me to decorate and actually digest. I had difficulties moving for the next 24 hours. We also visited a creperie, which I often mispronounced "crapery", but it was far from crap. A genuinely delicious array of savoury and sweet crepes. At only $5 dollars for all you can eat you'd think I would have pigged out, but towards the end of the cruise the thought of eating filled me with dread and I ended up having a modest but tantalising tomato and basil bisque, and a nutella crepe. 

We did also treat ourselves to some traditional Icelandic food on land I had a Smørbrød, which is an open sandwich basically, usually on Rye bread. Mine was topped with breaded plaice, prawns, smoked salmon, caviar, asparagus and some rather tasty sauce. It was the freshest fish I'd ever eaten and totally delicious. I do wish that on board the ships they would incorporate local delicacies into the dinner menus. Even stuffed puffin heads if they must, but I just think one of the most exciting parts of visiting a new country is the opportunity to emerse yourself into their culture and embrace their customs, and that also means eating their foods. 

There is a million and one ways to be entertained on board, our particular favourite was the acapella band full tilt. Not only were they genuinely lovely boys, but they sounded incredible. We did sort of become groupies, making sure we saw at least one performance each night if possible. I'm pretty sure you can get their stuff up on youtube so if you're bored of reading this by now I'd suggest having a little break, watching some lovely chaps singing, then come back to me, I promise i'll talk more about interesting things. I loved their renditions of Les Mis' bring him home and Loch Lomond. Brought a little tear to the eye. 
There is a lawn club on top deck, yes a freshly cut lawn, where I was proclaimed croquet champion. We took ballroom dancing lessons and I had a private ballet class with the lovely Bryant Henderson, to get me back into shape before I take up ballet again next week. The sky observation lounge had spectacular panoramic views and a band every night for you to dance too or just a mundane DJ. Crossing the arctic circle singing to the sensational alex harvey band was something special, (yes I bet you're surprised I even know who that is.) 
There was even a nighclub and a casino on board, I just know my boyfriend would be in the latter all day and every day. There is always multiple pools and jaccuzis on ships as well as saunas & spa's. You certainly cannot be bored on sea days, infact I looked forwards to them just for the opportunity to explore. Even the library was a pleasure, for the first time in three years I had the chance to sit down, read a novel (not a flaming law textbook) and not feel guilty. So I treated myself to the fabulous Anna Karenina.

 Obviously, the entire point of going on a cruise is to see the world. Or in our case the Arctic circle. My favourite destination by far way Norway. Geiranger for the mountain hike, Olden for the Glacier Hike, Flam for the stunning train ride and Bergan for the shopping warf. Without a doubt Norway is the most stunning location I have ever seen. The rural destinations were breathtaking, the water so clear, the places to clean and just the mountains and fjords were something truly special. Even my mum, who wouldn't normally consider it a holiday unless she comes back resembling a lobster, admitted this was something spectacular.
I'm feeling the need to show you just how beautiful the place was, but also trying to not bore you to death with pictures. When mum has returned from previous cruises with thousands of photographs I've been tempted to gouge my own eyes out purely for entertainment. 

<<< This is a cheeky picture of the view we had from the outdoor cafe as we sailed out of Geiranger, through the fjords. It's deffo something worth skipping dinner for! The only problem was that everyone else seemed to have the same idea as us and it was a little crowded on deck. The British mantra of queuing patiently and not shoving was certainly our downfall this holiday, it seems some people have no qualms about pushing infront of others.  

This the beautiful view we had on our way to the glacier, such clear water and undisturbed scenery.
Another highlight of Norway was the flam rail way. It was been voted one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. It's easy to see why when you're speeding through pulchritudinous mountain scenary up to the snow capped peaks. Half way up you stop at a stunning waterfall and are treated to a surprise performance. I'm no trainspotter, but if every train journey was like that i'd be donning the cap and whistle...

The blue lagoon in Iceland was something pretty different too. It's a geothermal spa located in a lava formation. The waters are heated by the power plant next door. Being outside in the cool Icelandic air whilst bathing in warm waters is such a surreal experience. The main issue was the fact it's "customary" to shower in the buff before you enter the pool. They are kind enough to provide single sex communal showers, but it was certainly an eye opening experience. Not one I want to witness again. 

Hopefully I have managed to share my holiday without boring you completely. Cruising has a very elitist vibe, you have to be prepared to spend money on board, even though you could easily get away without spending a single penny once you've stepped on board, trust me, my grandparents have managed it. However I for one am too much of an alcoholic to not go wild and loosen the purse strings. One ingenious way of making us forget how much money we were spending on board was the sea pass, cleverly disguised as your room key. Basically you never touched your purse the entire time you were on the ship, instead you are whapped in the face with a bill at the end of the cruise, showing all the dollars those endless cocktails have accumulated in. Although I believe $700 is a rather respectable bill, yes that isn't including the $200 onboard credit, but still. I could not imagine being without a balcony, it was such a luxury yet a necessity. Being able to sit in your own little world and look out to an endless sea. I also loved the chance to dress up formally once in a while, it's something you only get to do at weddings and christmas balls but I wish we could do it more often. 

So there you go. :)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Mandatory Olympic Post; Rage against the USA.

Why is the vast amount of American 'journalism' regarding the London 2012 Olympics so bitter and spiteful? I get that there is natural competition between everyone but it seems to be the USA in particular are trying to piss on our parade and find fault with absolutely everything. Take the opening ceremony. Boyle created a British masterpiece, it was eccentric, historical and witty, so very British. Yet as I scrolled through many tweets posted by Americans it was full of criticism. One girl asked why Britain had excluded other countries by making the ceremony "all about Britain." I'm sorry, but that was the whole point. No body criticised Beijing for having a lavish Chinese ceremony, so why should we not be proud of our own heritage? Some may be quick to suggest the Americans are jealous of their own lack of history. Perhaps when it's their turn they can have Ronald Macdonald prancing about? There was heavy criticism from many US congress men because of the dedication to the NHS. one claiming it was ‘The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state!', Why should we be ashamed of our healthcare system? No matter what class or race you are, everyone is entitled to free medical services in our country, this is an example we want to proudly set to the world! Boris Johnson said  ‘People say it was all leftie stuff. That is nonsense…I thought it was stupefying, one of the most amazing events I have ever seen.’ surely if it were a "leftie" production, the staunchly conservative man wouldn't have enjoyed it so much! 

One comment that really did ruffle my feathers was found in the New York Times. "Britain offered a display of humor and humbleness that can only stem from a deep-rooted sense of superiority". Not only is it such a contradictory statement, as humbleness and superiority are complete antonyms of each other, but it completely disrespects the whole ceremony. Great Britain just wanted the opportunity to do something great and historical, something for people to always remember and to prove we can put on a jolly good show, just the same as every country who have hosted the games. When the USA host the games next, we could all bet our houses that it will be the least humble ceremony in history, full of starry eyed patriots rambling on about how "awesome" America is. I felt it was a very humble ceremony, we didn't claim to be the greatest country of all time or anything ridiculous.

One example of excellent journalism was in the USA daily mail, where with absolute seriousness a journalist marvelled at the hilarity of Rowan Atkinson, but noted "you would think the organisers would want the well-known fool to be kept well away from the ceremony in order to prevent any disasters." I thought at first the journalist was trying to be funny, but upon reading the comments it was clear she isn't aware that Rowan is a top class intellect, educated at Oxford university who just happens to be an excellent actor. I know they say American's don't get our sense of humour or eccentricity, hence why their "comedy" shows are full of elaborate stupidity and insults rather than wit, but I always felt this was a stereotype, until I read that article. Come on guys, no one is really that stupid. I'm glad the Queen's stunt was met with roaring success from all walks of the world, so clearly the Americans can appreciate our sense of humour occasionally! One of the few things that the critics seemed to unanimously enjoy was the Macca sing a long, which I hated as it was so out of tune & time.

I'm not sure what the critics were expecting, did they think the Royal Family were going to get up and perform Pulp's 'Common People?' come to think of it that would have been rather entertaining, but it was nice to explore the working class side of our history rather than the usual sterotypical display of Red Buses, Beefeaters and aristocracy. Hands off to Boyle for getting us more excited about the Olympics in three hours than it's taken poor Boris in the last seven years. I just think the American haters need to chill a little, if they get the chance to show us how it should have been done we will be watching. I probably should point out that many of the informal tweets from American citizens were full of praise and enthusiasm, it's just a shame some of the professionals
couldn't have been a little more open minded and positive. End of the day they know they are coming home with more medals than us, so perhaps they should just enjoy the even we have put on and appreciate what Great Britain has to offer. The whole point of the Olympics is unity & friendly competition, by disrespecting the hosts efforts to entertain you goes against the Olympic spirit. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird

This is my first post as Miss LLB Hons. I finally have the fancy letters after my name! It therefore seems appropriate to write about the book which inspired me to become a lawyer in the first place. I have always been somewhat of a literary snob. As soon as I was competent enough to read at the age of 3 I did little else, it was either ballet dancing or reading. I was the easiest child to look after because you could stick me in the corner of a room with a book and I'd be content for hours. And by the time I had started primary school I was refusing to read "children's books", instead I read Lewis Carol. So the fact my favourite ever book is essentially a children's novel is a little contradictory, but it will always and forever be my number one book. So much that when I was told my hardback copy have been burnt by a scorned ex boyfriend I cried for the loss of my book rather than the end of the relationship. It is a book I believe EVERYONE should read at least twice during your life, once as a child and once as an adult. I have re read the novel many times. We had to study it during our GCSE's and I was shocked to be the only member of my class that had already read it! During my A-levels I wrote a comparative essay on the book and Arthur Miller's "the crucible" discussing the portrayal of injustice. Needless to say I know the novel inside out and it has been read a thousand times. Although I first read Harper Lee's novel when I was 11, reading it again when I was older had such a stark profound effect on me. I appreciated the quality so much more and the messages within.

The telegraph revealed that "To Kill a Mockingbird" was voted the most inspirational book of all time, beating the bible.  So what makes it such a fantastic literary creation? Perhaps it's the quality of writing and the vivid description which brings to life the small deep southern, Depression-ravaged town of Maycomb. The plot is relatively straight forwards, A lawyer (Atticus Finch) is picked to defend a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. But the subplots make it deliciously complex and grasping. Atticus is the moral backbone of the story, although some literary critics have claimed he's unrealistically perfect, I see him as an inspiration, both as a lawyer and a parent. He is rational, fair, and wise. He always see's the good in everyone and tries to understand and forgive their flaws. As a lawyer, he's committed to justice and would rather stand for what is right than bend to convention. It is a refreshing change to see a lawyer depicted as a hero, rather than as devious & callous. It is Atticus that inspired me to go into law, So I have Harper Lee to thank, or begrudge! 

Although set it the Deep American South, it easily translates to Britain and it's issues with prejudice, racism and class. It reminds me of something my old history teacher said whilst studying British Colonialism; even those on the bottom of the lowest classes in Britain thought they were better than the rest of the empire simply for being white and British. It's the exact same principle within the book. The "white trash" Ewells believe themselves to be better than Tom Robinson simply because of his skin colour. Furthermore, the jury could never be seen to convict a black man over a white man. The prejudice is painful and gripping, as a  reader there is no doubt whatsoever to Tom's innocence yet we have been so very well introduced to Maycomb's way of life & it's customs that we have little hope for justice. 

I am worried that if I keep talking I shall just spoil the enjoyment for everyone that hasn't read it. The film starring Gregory Peck is superb but does leave out some of the side stories which I believe to be crucial for the enjoyment of the novel. So if you're going to pick up a book this summer, forget the badly written porn that seems to be dominating the market, read to Kill a Mockingbird, you won't regret it, I promise. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Phantom of the Opera UK Tour Review

Phantom is arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous masterpiece. 25 years since it first was performed it still captures the hearts and minds of audiences, young and old. As a 21st birthday treat my mum offered my the choice of a family meal out or a trip to Phantom of the Opera in Bristol Hippodrome. I got both. Thank you Jamie Oliver in Bath. It wasn't my first experience of Phantom, but there is something magical about being in Bristol Hippodrome and a live performance is always going to be better than a film, even without the gorgeous Gerard Butler. I refused to sit in the "peasantry" stalls as when I went to see Might Boosh in the hippodrome a few years earlier, I was sat in row M, and being vertically challenged I was barely able to see Noel Fielding in his mini metallic dress. So we had front for Grand Circle seats, which gave us a beautiful panoramic where we could see the whole stage uninterrupted. It has been suggested to me that Phantom is outdated but I loved it so much, I returned within the next 6 days, desperate for my boyfriend to experience Phantom for the first time and to be blown away by the outstanding cast, scenery and orchestra. 

Bristol Hippodrome, I was sat front row of the grand circle both times. Excellent viewing,
Based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel Le Fantome de l’Opera, the story of the Phantom and his love of Christine is a story everyone should know. I shall try give a brief and therefore unsubstantial nutshell of the story in case you do not know of it, It is fundamentally a classic triangle love story in the vein of other outcast romances such The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Phantom, a deformed genius, lives haunts and controlls the happenings at the Paris Opera House.  His obsession and protegee, orphan Christine believes her father has sent her an Angel of music to teach her to sing, although she has all along suspected he is also the infamous Phantom of the Opera. She rises from chorus girl to lead thanks to the Phantoms interference with the Opera House and subsequently is reunited with her childhood sweetheart, Raoul, who is in awe of Christine's voice and has always fondly remembered her. However Raoul's advances enrage the Phantom, he lures Christine to his underground lair where he hides from the light of day and pays homage to music. He plans to use his music to enchant her and make her love him. When Christine awakes the phantom has removed his mask and has his back to her, Christine is determined to see the face of her angel of music but is horrified to see his deformed physique and the Phantom, embarrassed and enraged, sends her away. He is however, still obsessed with Christine and many horrors follow at the opera house, causing Christine to flee with Raoul, they declare their love for each other, Raoul promising to protect Christine from the Phantom. The showdown comes as the Phantom and Raoul vie for Christine’s affections. Christine is initially disgusted by the Phantom's actions, claiming it's not his deformity that repulses her but his soul,  but soon learns he's lived a terrible life, deprived of love and kindness. She kisses the phantom, showing him compassion for the first time in his life. He lets her leave with Raoul and disappears into the night.

Souvenir broach from Mummy. 

The set design was beyond incredible, it was a multipurpose set, Paul Brown's revolving set made the journey to the Phantom's underground lair a breathless joy to watch. From the steps which appear magically, to the mystical boat scene and the breathtaking chandelier which illuminates to the overture. The scenery was well planned and incredible, the Hippodrome is not the biggest of theaters and I was unsure how they would fit such a large production into the stage but his intricate and perfectly planned masterpiece proved me wrong. My only disappointment was that the chandelier never actually fell.  But, considering it was hanging over the crowded stalls it was probably for the best.

The music is, without doubt, the most important part of the production. The Orchestra are the unsung stars. The perfect and precise timing in the pit is what binds the whole production together. I think you really have to be there to understand the impact when you hear those famous songs, Phantom of the Opera, Think of me, Music of the Night etc etc. The songs really do stick in your heard, I literally have a constant orchestra playing in my head from the minute I wake up and find myself humming along. I was treated to the official CD from the Merch box, along with my broach so even if I do start to loose my internal overture I can always regain it. 

Obviously an amazing cast is imperative, even the small parts.  The managers provided comic entertainment without being try hards, the ballet cast were incredible and made me long to take up dancing again, something I haven't done for 4 years. But obviously the big three are the integral components of the show;

John Owen-Jones
John Owen Jones- Phantom
Hailing from South Wales, John is actually the longest running West End Phantom of all time, nearing 2000 performances! His other most famous role is as ValJean in Les Miserables, (another favourite of mine) and was voted the best actor to ever play the role. His presence on stage was dominating and enticing all at the same time, just how the Phantom should be, He was aggressive, obsessive and frightening whilst also being fragile and vulnerable at the same time. He perfectly took the audience on a journey of heartache, pain and longing. His voice was outstanding and commanding, everyone in the audience would have certainly had goosebumps and little shivers sent down their spine when he his those grand notes. He does have an album out "unmasked" which I will be cheekily downloading despite the fact I am now a broke graduate. 

simon Bailey
Simon Bailey- Raoul, Vicomte de Changy
Simon gave a new direction to Raoul for this production, he is more than just a pretty & handsome boy, (although he is that as well) he is now a hero in his own right. Raoul genuinely loves his childhood sweetheart Christine, you don't feel he only loves her success, in fact he is proud of her to have done so well and you get the impression he loved her even since he fetched her red scarf from the lake. I have always been team Raoul so say, but Simon's performance has cemented this for me. Which is why I refuse to watch Love Never Dies. Simon is also a friendly fella on twitter. This is not his first time playing Raoul and I find it touching that he dedicates every performance to the memory of his late father. 

Olivia Bereton - Chistine Daae 
It genuinely was impossible to believe she is the alternative Christine, what's more, this is her professional debut. I certainly did not feel short changed having the alternate Miss Daae at both performances, her performance was impeccable. She had the most beautiful vocal range, hitting high A with ease, her performance was one of such fragility and vulnerability it was so believable and touching. She found a fine balance between all the characteristics that makes Christine such a complex character, her grief for her father and constant search for comfort beyond the grave, her fear and disgust at the phantom, not for his physical appearance but for his heartless behaviour, her longing for protection and stability from Raoul and finally her uncontrollable desire for music. to improve her singing, to connect with her father's passion for music. Music over powers her in a way that allows the phantom to have a hypnotic control over her. Olivia encompassed all these qualities with ease and perfection. Her only flaw is that whilst playing a ballet girl she is the only one of the dancers not on pointe, although twitter reliably informs me she is training up and will be on pointe by Dublin performances! If this is merely her debut then we have many great things to expect from her. She is also very lovely and gratuitous to her fans (including myself) on twitter. 

The tour leaves Bristol at the end of June but will most likely be coming to a theatre near you. Check it out for yourself at http://www.thephantomoftheoperatour.com/tour-dates I would thoroughly reccommend seeing it. Even those of you who hate musicals or opera, It will move you in ways you cannot imagine and will open you up to a whole new genre of music. I will almost certainly be going to see it again, probably in Liverpool. It would be nice to see Katie Hall as Christine because I have only heard positive reviews about her! 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Aberystywth May Ball 2012

Aberystwyth May Ball is an odd one. Whilst it's certainly not worth the £40 ticket it's without doubt the best night of the year. But in comparison of other university balls, it's pretty substandard. Most Uni's attract big name acts such as Florence and the Machine, whereas the best we get are the Hoosiers, great in their hey day, but their hey day was 5 years ago. We were also expected to be impressed with Toploader, who's one greatest hit dancing in the moonlight was released well over a decade ago, if not two. It's not something i'm ringing home to brag about. Zane Lowe was surprisingly good, a mich bigger improvement on Westwood, who we were subjected to two years before. But I still wouldn't pay £40 to see him.

My dress from Jack Wills clutch from Spain, Emma's from French Connection, Shoes from Faith.
Photography done by our wonderful bestie Eiry Bateman.

I'm not sure why we bother spending most of the day preening and trying to make ourselves look good, most of the ball is outside and by the time I get off the coach I inevitable look like i've been dragged through a hedge backwards. But still, it gives us something to get excited about. Aber isn't the sort of place where you have to dress up for a night out. There's often girls on the dance floor in flats, jeans and tee shirts. You can even wear trainers on the dancefloor. So the chance to properly dress up is something we relish. Some people go all out and wear proper ball gowns, but we decided to go for slightly more casual formal wear, so that we could enjoy the rides and not ruin our dresses by dragging them through the mud. It is lush that all the boys wear suits though! ;) 
Staying Classy and hiding Gin up Stan's Dress.

The coach journey to Pontrhydfendigaid is a horror, First year I was unfortunate enough to be slightly travel sick, on my boyfriends suit... Needless to say this year my omnibenevolent friends made me sit opposite them rather than sit with me in case my upchuck reflexes went into over drive. So I ended up sitting next to some guy from Luton (being a Wrexham fc fan this was not a good thing and I spent most of the journey chastising him) whilst drinking gin that had been cleverly hidden in Emma's pants. It was a sure sign that things were going to stay classy.
No one would sit with me because of my travel sickness, ended up next to a Luton fan (BOO)

2 Shots for one token!

The drinks were heavily over priced. £10 for 4 drinks tokens. a Jug of pimms was 6 tokes (although 2 were just for a deposit). I ended up on the shots all night as you could purchase 2 sourz for 1 token. It wasn't a particularly messy night by our standards. Despite the copious amount of beverages consumed. The freezing weather was probably to blame! Sub zero temperatures will sober anyone up, have you ever seen a drunk eskimo? I rest my case.

Extortionately priced jug of pimms, extra strawbs ofc.

Luckily for us we have Stan, as she works for the union she seems to know just about everyone and she pulls some strings to get us extra strawbs in our pimms. Everyone loves Strawberries. 

The rides were all free. All four of them. And being an adreneline junkie I was more than happy to spend the warmest (yet still freezing) part of the night on the rides. Poor Ruth ended up being a bag donkey and watching us go round and round as she does not share our love for rides. We did take her on the dodgems and convinced her to come on the twister, which was a beautiful moment for me, not so much for her... I probably shouldn't have laughed the whole time when she was so terrified. I'll use this as a chance to profusely apologies for being so inconsiderate. Crying with laughter at your terrified friend is a horrible thing to do. But it was so funny. 

Headphone discoing
The layout of may ball is; there is one main building for all the "massive acts", a few rides and a few tents. Inside the tents are various bars hosting tribute acts, commedy shows, acoustic music and a headphone disco. Head phone discos are one of my favourite things, you can chose whether to listen to station A or B, so half of the room will be listening to ace of spades and the other half call me maybe. The awkward moment is when you and your friend are singing at each other only to realise you are singing completely different songs. Without a doubt the headphone disco is the saving grace of the mayball. Most of us aren't insterested in seeing the massive "acts" and would much prefer having a laugh at something like this. Perhaps the uni should invest in more tent attractions next year instead of ms dynamite (boring). Just not a foam party tent. I hate foam parties. on account of me being small and easily lost among the foamy horror. 

Headphone disco, Emma probably listening to beyonce whilst i'm on the tennacious d. 

Having our feet nibbled.

Not everything was included in the price. Things like the oxygen tank (A legal high) and the fish spa were optional extras that proved rather costly. Having always wanted to have fish nibble the dead skin from the feet I paid the £5 per person for 4 minutes (yes more than a pound a minute). Although really, we're doing the fish a favour by feeding them, they're getting a free all you can eat buffet down there. It was the strangest sensation ever. A very dull tickle with the occasional wee fish that gets carried away on your ankle or between your toes. I was slightly horrified to hear these were the baby fishes and in the shop they have much bigger ones to nibble you with. It was a nice experience though! 

So was it worth it? Of course, this was our last chance to have a night out together before the horror of exams set in. Sadly not all of our friends came but it was still lovely to get out of aberystwyth, even if Pontrhydfendigaid is basically a field in the middle of no where. I was getting so tired of the aber bubble. with its two night clubs and bog standards bars. The chance to dress up and do something different was something to jump at. I couldn't understand why some people were leaving early to go to Yoko's. you can go to that dive any day!  The weather was the biggest let down, I think we nearly froze to death but that can't be helped. A better array of food would be appreciated, we were limited to the choice of general burger vans or starvation. I'm thinking a hog roast or a sushi bar would have been a great success!  And we clearly need to attract bigger names, we deserve better than that! 

Would like to use this chance to thank our bestie Eiry for her lovely photography at the beginning of the night. Her photography proves you can polish a turd provided you have an SLR camera!  x